Gold rises 1% on vaccine caution, surging virus cases

An Argor-Heraeus SA stamp sits on a 250 gram gold bar in Budapest, Hungary, on  March 10, 2016.
Akos Stiller | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Gold rose 1% on Thursday on concern over the logistics of a potential COVID-19 vaccine roll-out as cases continued to surge in the United States, while hopes of more fiscal and monetary stimulus offered support to the safe-haven metal.

Spot gold rose 0.9% to $1,881.57 per ounce, while U.S. gold futures climbed 1% to $1,880.50.

"The (gold) market is focused on stimulus and on the number of COVID-19 cases, those are continuing to rise," said Phillip Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures in Chicago.

Regarding the vaccine, "we don't know how the distribution is going to work ... It seems like even if they had the vaccine, they probably won't be aggressive on going out, getting it," Streible added.

The United States continued to notch up grim records, with a worsening outbreak in the northeast of the country adding pressure on top of an already reeling Midwest. Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell, but the pace of decline has slowed and further improvement could be limited by a raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, gold lost 4.6% as encouraging late-stage vaccine trial data from Pfizer Inc powered a surge in equities and drove a sharp retreat in safe-haven bullion.

Investor focus now shifts to speeches by the presidents of the U.S. Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago and New York regarding monetary stimulus and economic stability later in the day.

Gold tends to benefit from widespread stimulus measures because it is viewed as a hedge against inflation and currency debasement.

"Technically, gold price remains in the main lateral channel between $1,850 and $2,070," ActivTrades' chief analyst, Carlo Alberto De Casa, said in a note.

"Gold is trading close to the lower end of that range and a clear break down of this level could open space for further declines."

Silver was up 0.4% at $24.35 an ounce. Platinum

climbed 2.1% to $883.54, while palladium gained 1% to $2,338.55.